St. Mary's Law Journal


In Sell v. United States, decided in 2003, the United States Supreme Court addressed the question of “whether the Constitution permits the Government to administer antipsychotic drugs involuntarily to a mentally ill criminal defendant – in order to render that defendant competent to stand trial for serious, but nonviolent crimes.” The Court concluded that the Constitution does permit doing so “in limited circumstances…upon satisfaction of conditions” that the Court delineated. This Article will first address the Court’s parameters for determining when the administration of antipsychotic medications on an involuntary basis is permissible. The remainder of the Article, however, will discuss the various approaches taken by the Texas Legislature to codify certain hearing mechanisms to address the thorny issues raised by Sell. Specifically, after briefly addressing Sell, this Article will analyze an array of Texas legislative enactments from 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009, all of which have addressed the issue of a defendant’s refusal to take antipsychotic medication after having been adjudicated incompetent to stand trial, but prior to the criminal trial on the merits. Keywords: Brian D. Shannon, St. Mary’s University School of Law, St. Mary’s Law Journal, medical consent, mentally ill, involuntary treatment, criminal justice system, incompetent to stand trial, mental health treatment, inpatient facility, outpatient treatment, medication orders, antipsychotic medications, Sell v. United States, Washington v. Harper, Riggins v. Nevada, Texas Legislature, Senate Bill 1057, article 46B.086, Senate Bill 553, Senate Bill 465, 574.106 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, Senate Bill 867, House Bill 1233, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure chapter 46B.


St. Mary's University School of Law